Adventure and exploration thoughts

A few definitions open for discussion


Definitions of adventurer and explorer

The reader will bear in mind that the definitions here have the focus on outdoor activities.

Adventure. A few definitions are: An undertaking or enterprise of a hazardous nature, exposed to danger or risk. Engage in daring or risky activity. In brief, if the activity is remarkable and has an abnormal risk to would lead to injury or death, it’s an adventure. Highly adventurous examples: climbing Mount Everest, cycling for months in a remote area, rowing an ocean or walking for weeks across a desert are adventures. The outcome is unsure and the risk of something bad happening is fairly high. What is meant by remarkable? Is cycling from London to Bristol remarkable? No. Was it is 1910. I guess so. An adventure goes along with decent preparations and it easily becomes part of an expedition. Expedition is defined further.

Walking across a landmine field, venturing alone in the Serengeti National park on foot to get close-up photos of lions or trying to approach drug dealers in the Amazon jungle is not adventure. It's stupidity.

Adventurer. A person doing an adventure.

A Pro-adventurer is someone who makes money out of books, films, talks or sponsors to make a living or tries to. A Pro-adventurer has a deep passion for adventure and will do several adventures or expeditions.

A seasonal adventurer is someone who does one or two expeditions, then life goes and he/she doesn’t do any other expedition. Life goes on with the usual like getting a job, finding a partner, getting married or having kids. Sometimes after a few years or decades, we see someone coming back to the front scene to do another expedition.

Expedition: A journey undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose especially that of exploration. I partly agree on this definition. The expedition goes certainly somewhere for a purpose but the journey is not always the expedition. If a botanist goes to Borneo on expedition but once arrived and a camp set he stays for 2 months in the same spot to study animals and plants, he is on expedition. But the journey to there might not be a journey. In an expedition, I see 2 important features: people or equipment is moved from a base to a location.

Our botanist in Borneo has had its equipment moved. An adventurer on expedition to kayak down 400km of an Amazonian river is himself moving. This adventurer might have prepared the expedition by also studying where he could get food or even shipped or expedited equipment or food to several location along his foreseen route. In brief, an expedition would be the organisation of displacement of people or goods.

Explorer: a person who investigates unknown or unfamiliar regions. Let’s open first a parenthesis. The planet is NOT fully explored. Far from it. But that’s a debate for another blogpost. So an explorer certainly goes to remote places never explored by men but he can also be an explorer is he/she goes to places unknown according to the modern society. This means it’s possible to explore a jungle and discover a new tribe that lives there for centuries or find relics belonging to an ancient civilisation. What differentiates mainly the adventurer from the explorer is the purpose. The adventurer will take risks, the explorer not necessarily. The explorer will come back with new documented information, usually of scientific value. This means a person can be both an adventurer and an explorer. During the same expedition or be more one profile or the other depending on the purpose of the expedition.

Exploration: The action, the set of activities explorers do to go and learn about a specific unfamiliar or unknown area.

Microadventure. This term has been made popular by British adventurer Alastair Humphreys. “A microadventure is an adventure. It's as simple as that. It's just an adventure that is short, simple, cheap, local, and therefore achievable.” I don’t agree on this definition. The essence of the word “adventure” is to embed some risks. Most of the microadventure suggestions have no risks at all. Again let’s refer here to what we consider what a risk is when we speak about an outdoor adventure: something that would be out of the ordinary, that adds clear new risks compared to a normal situation. Alastair encourages people to go out their comfort zone and do something unusual in the outdoors. “One of the main aspect of microadventures is making it easier for people to get out of their routines and into the wild. So long as people are getting out into the wild – hiking, climbing, riding, swimming, running, sleeping – then that’s all that really matters.” For this, I absolutely agree that people should in general do more outdoor activities and the push of Alastair to get creative and do it local and cheap etc… is just great. I’d call it just a “trip” and people have been doing trips for ages. Trips are usually never mentioned because they are so normal. A 5-hour walk, a swim, a 3-day hill trek or cycling between Paris and Berlin. It’s not an adventure. Now, the philosophy introduced by Humphreys is something I’d call rather a cheap- or micro-trip. In the end, he succeeded to motivate people to move away from their desk or their home for a few hours or a few days and do something new outdoors. And this is a brilliant achievement. He published a book full of ideas if you need some “Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes”

Conclusion. Whatever the outdoor activity you do as a pro- or novice, going to a natural place is always refreshing for the mind. It helps to grow as a healthy person in mind and body to do outdoor activities. In the short time it’s good for you. On a larger time span it will increase humanity’s love for nature and the more people start to act and respect nature, the more we reach our mission.